JIMMY MILLER -- A MAN TO BE RESPECTED AS IS ALL TOO OFTEN THE SITUATION -- I PASS ON WORD OF ANOTHER FALLEN CLASSMATE - JIMMY MILLER, WHO WAS A STAR GUARD ON THE ROGER BROWN ERA WINGATE BASKETBALL TEAMS OF THE LATE 1950s TO 1960.
I BELIEVE, DONNIE BLACK TOLD ME, JIMMY WAS LIVING IN THE CLINTON HILL SECTION OF BROOKLYN.
JIMMY WAS AT A MINI GATHERING OF FORMER WINGATE PLAYERS, AT CARMINE'S RESTAURANT IN UPPER MANHATTAN IN THE SUMMER OF 2003. HE WAS NOT IN THE BEST OF HEALTH AND AS THE MASSIVE ( JUST PLAIN GIGANTIC ) PLATTERS OF FOOD WERE BROUGHT TO THE TABLE, COACH ROSENSTEIN OFTEN REMINDED JIMMY, HE HAD TO AVOID CERTAIN ITEMS OR COACH WOULD ASK JIMMY , IF HE THOUGHT A DISH WAS WITHIN HIS DIET.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT MEDICAL CONDITION JIMMY WAS DEALING WITH, BUT HE WAS IN GOOD SPIRITS AND EVERYONE TREATED HIM AS THE STAR HE WAS.
TO THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW OF JIMMY MILLER -- I INVOKE THE JOHN DUNNE RULE -- "ANY MAN'S DEATH DIMINISHES ME" -- THIS WAS A GOOD MAN - WE ARE ALL LESSEN TO HAVE HIM DEPART THIS MORTAL PLANE SO SOON.
THE FACT THAT HE WAS AN OUTSTANDING ATHLETE, PALES BESIDE THE FACT THAT HE WAS A GOOD MAN.
******** JOEL BARBANELL'S COMMENTS ***********
Learning of Jimmy's death was very sad for me. I remember my first practice at Wingate. Jimmy took the ball from me 4 times. Coach just laughed and laughed.
I was 15 years old, Jimmy gave me a quick lesson on taking care of the "rock." Jimmy was "Clyde Frazier" way before there was a Clyde Frazier. He could steal hub caps off a moving car. When I met Jimmy at Carmines last year, I hugged him and told him I have one hand on my wallet.
It was so sad, Jimmy never ever missed a lay-up. But, the 2 breakaway lay-ups he blew at The Garden cost us THE GAME against the Connie Hawkins lead Boy's High team.
Jimmy never forgave himself.
Thirty years later Roger told me he spoke with Jimmy, and Jimmy never let it go. He carried a terrible burden all those years.
Another point of info. Jimmy was offered a full ride to UCLA. and rejected it. He couldn't entertain the thought of going to college 3,000 miles away from BROOKLYN.
To Jimmy, California was the other side of the world, this was 1960.
I'll miss another team-mate.
COMMENTS FROM WINGATE ALL CITY PLAYER -
The problems Jimmy had in that classic game at The Garden relate to three elements: Walt Davis of Boys High was known for catching up with players on fast breaks and knocking away the ball without fouling -- he did it to me more than once in the gym at P.S. 289 recreation center and that was something no one ever did to me, once I was ahead of them on an open lane to the basket.
The Garden had, as all who played there know, awful deadspots, which played havoc on your rythm and put thr dribbler at a disadvantage against a fast defender running free.
The third problem was those freaky glass backboards and the misreads due to those clear backboards were all contributing factors. Sometimes the dice don't roll your way and you have to live with the results.
Jimmy did not let us down, I just wish he understood how much a part of that great team he was and maybe then he could have just shrugged off those missed shots as "bad breaks" and realized that, no matter what, he was one of the best.
Good luck and God bless you Jimmy.
^^^^^^^^^COMMENTS FROM GAFF ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
THE TWO BREAKAWAY MISSES STICK IN MY MIND- THEY WERE PAINFUL TO WATCH. IF A GUY WAS A SCREW-UP AND A JERK -- I MIGHT NEVER LET THOSE MISSES GO - BUT I RECALL SITTING UP HIGH IN THE GARDEN AND LIKE ABOUT 2 MILLION OTHER FOLKS, WHO CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN THERE THAT AFTERNOON, MY THOUGHTS WERE THAT THE GODS HAD CRUELLY CONSPIRED TO MAKE A SURE THING INTO A GEOGRAPHIC TRAGEDY ---->>>
IF YOU WENT TO SCHOOL ON MARCY AVENUE, IT WAS GOD'S HAND BLOCKING THE BALL AND IF YOU WENT TO SCHOOL ON KINGSTON AVENUE, IT WAS THE HAND OF THE DEVIL INTERFERRING IN THE AFFAIRS OF NATURAL LAW AND STEALING WINGATE'S MUCH DESERVED AND EARN FOUGHT VICTORY.
I SAW TWO WINGATE GAMES BEFORE THAT HISTORIC GARDEN EVENT - I OBSERVED THE EFFICIENT MANNER IN WHICH JIMMY PLAYED - BUSINESS LIKE - SERIOUS - FAST AS HELL.
I WAS A FAN AND NO ONE ON EARTH IS AS MEAN SPIRITED AND READY TO LASH OUT AS A DISAPPOINTED FAN --
TEAMMATES HAVE INSIGHTS - THEY SEE STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS IN THEIR FELLOW PLAYERS -- THEY FEEL COMPASSION AND LOYALTY, KNOWING THAT THEY COULD HAVE MISSED THAT SAME SHOT OR NOT JUMPED HIGH ENOUGH FOR THAT SAME LOST REBOUND -- -->>>
THE FAN IS FREE OF ANY OBJECTIVE THOUGHTS - THE FAN THINKS HE WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALL AND THE GUY WHO DIDN'T DO IT ALL WAS A BUM, UNWORTHY OF RESPECT. I FELT NO HARD FEELINGS TOWARD JIMMY -- HE MISSED THE WINNING BASKETS AND THAT IS A FACT -- BUT I COULDN'T ATTACH ANY ANIMOSITY TO HIM AS A PERSON - I COULDN'T SAY HE SHOWBOATED OR HE FOLDED -- HE DID IT ALL THE RIGHT WAY AND GOT ONLY THE WRONG RESULTS - ALMOST A MIRROR IMAGE OF ANOTHER WINGATE PLAYER, WHO COULDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG IN THE SAME PLACE - TWO YEARS LATER, WHILE SCORING ELEVEN STRAIGHT POINTS, BEFORE TIME CLOSED THE DOOR ON THE 1962 SEASON AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.
WE USUALLY ENJOY THESE E-MAILS ABOUT THE GOOD OLD DAYS, BUT ONLY BECAUSE WE HAVE MOVED ON TO LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD -- BROOKLYN KIDS, PLAYING IN THE TRUE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN ON 50th STREET -- HAVING A SUBWAY TRAIN PICKING UP AN ENTIRE SCHOOL AND DEPOSITING THEM IN MIDTOWN MANHATTAN - WATCHING THE TWO BEST PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF NYC MEET IN A GAME OF UNDEFEATED TEAMS - STILL TALKING ABOUT A HIGH SCHOOL GAME ALMOST 50 YEARS LATER - THAT IS NOT THE REAL WORLD - THAT IS A FANTASY WHICH SPIELBERG COULD NOT BRING TO THE SCREEN UNLESS HE WAS FROM BROOKLYN.
HAVING THE BENCH GUYS FROM THAT TEAM, HASKELL, JOEL, SAM, FREDDY, CARRY THE FLAG AND TWO SEASON'S LATER, ACTUALLY COME CLOSER TO A CHAMPIONSHIP THAN THE ROGER BROWN LEAD TEAM, THAT WAS FANTASTIC.
WE CAN ENJOY LOOKING BACK BECAUSE WE HAVE HOMES, KIDS, JOBS, ACHIEVEMENTS THAT COUNT IN THE REAL WORLD -- VETERANS OF WAR - POLICEMEN - TEACHERS -BUSINESSMEN - JOURNALIST - DOCTORS - LAWYERS - SCIENTIST - SOCIAL WORKERS - CAB DRIVERS - COOKS - PLUMBERS.
OUR WORLD IS NOW LARGER THAN BROOKLYN -- BURLINGTON TO MIAMI TO LOS ANGELES / SAN FRANCISCO.WE HAVE SEEN GIANTS ASSASSINATED HERE IN AMERICA, BURIED FRIENDS AND RELATIVES, SEEN THE WORLD CHANGE AND LIVED THRU BLACKOUTS AND 9/11 --- WE HAVE A BETTER PERSPECTIVE THAN WE HAD WHEN KINGSTON AVENUE WAS THE CENTER OF OUR UNIVERSE AND RUNNING UP AND DOWN A WOODEN FLOOR WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR DAY.
SOME OF US FELT EVERYTHING WAS GREAT AT WINGATE - SOME OF US HAD COMPLAINTS AND SAW INJUSTICE IN OUR HIGH SCHOOL DAYS, BOTH IN SPORTS AND IN THE CLASSROOM -- OUR DREAMS WERE NOT ALWAYS FULLY REALIZED; BUT WIN OR LOSE - HAPPY OR SAD -- WHETHER WE GOT THE BREAKS OR NOT - WE HAVE ALL MOVED ON AND ARE DEALING WITH THE REAL WORLD, WHILE LOOKING BACK - USUALLY FONDLY, ON THE PAST.
I HOPE JIMMY LET THOSE 2 UNFORTUNATE ERRORS STAY WHERE THEY BELONG, BACK ON KINGSTON AVENUE IN THAT FANTASY WORLD OF OUR YOUTH - I HOPE HE FOUND THE PEACE THAT COMES WITH MOVING ON.
I TRUST THE AFFECTION HE EXPERIENCED AT CARMINE'S, TOLD HIM THAT THE PERSON IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PLAYER. ONE MORE THING -- I DIDN'T PLAY WITH JIMMY AS A TEAMMATE - BUT HE COMMANDED RESPECT -- NOT IN A FORCEFUL WAY, BUT JUST SOMETHING ABOUT HIM MADE YOU KNOW HE WAS WORTHY OF RESPECT -- LAY UPS, MADE OR MISSED, COULDN'T CHANGE THAT.
HIS LIFE WAS OF GREATER VALUE THAN ANY GAME EVER PLAYED.